Homemade Doughnuts

doughnuts

Why is it that I can resist the call of doughnuts at almost any time EXCEPT when I see a character I like eat it on TV? Then it becomes a perogative of mine to enjoy such a cakey delight. My favorites happen to be crullers, boston cream,and apple fritters. My pastry has to have density or filling to be satisfying!

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Best Ever Cheesecake

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I love the idea of cheesecake. The almost custard-like creaminess, the ever so slight chew, the sweet yet cheese-y flavour, the millions of flavour combinations you can do with it. But every time I had some cheesecake I was disappointed. Either it was too sweet, or too dense, or not cheese-y enough. And I started researching cheesecake recipes hoping to find the perfect one. Along the way I discovered that there are several main kinds of cheesecake – the New York cheesecake, the sour cream based cheesecake, the no-bake cream cheese cheesecake, and the Italian ricotta based cheesecake.

I tried each as I discovered them, still none of them fulfilling my fantasy standards. Until I came across one that combined all the ingredients on Allrecipes. I have since lost the original link and have made many a modification. But this cheesecake is damn near perfect. Though I still struggle with crusts. Why can I not successfully make a crust – crumb or pastry?

This latest cheesecake making was to celebrate one of my oldest and dearest friends move to Miami to start a career at a travel agency! So with the promise of discounted Disney Cruises ringing in my ears I baked mini heart-shaped cheesecakes to drop off before her departure. I used crushed gluten-free ginger snaps and butter to make a base crust for the mini pans, and the rest of the recipe is already gluten-free (make sure to double check your ingredients for sneakily added gluten fillers though!) so it was an easily converted recipe. =)

My most current version of the recipe is modified to fill either several mini 4″ springforms or 2 cookie crusted pie tins.

For mini cakes:

  • 6 oz Cream Cheese
  • ¼ cup Whole Milk Ricotta
  • 2 tablespoons Greek yogurt (or sour cream, I just used what I had on hand)
  • ¼ cup + 2 tablespoons Sugar
  • 1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon Heavy Cream
  • ¾ teaspoon Vanilla Extract
  • 1 Egg and 1 Egg Yolk, beaten
  • ¾ teaspoon Lemon Juice
  • OPTIONAL fruit or chocolate chips

For regular cake:

  • 24 ounces Cream Cheese, softened
  • 1 cup Whole Milk Ricotta
  • ½ cup Greek Yogurt
  • 1 ½ cups Sugar
  • ⅓ cup Heavy Cream
  • 1 tablespoon Vanilla Extract
  • 2 Eggs and 3 Egg Yolks, beaten
  • 1 tablespoon Lemon Juice

Directions for both batch sizes:
Preheat oven to 400 F.

Beat first 4 ingredients with electric mixer.
Whisk heavy cream and vanilla together, beat in eggs.

On medium speed slowly incorporate egg mixture into cream cheese.

Add lemon juice.

Once thoroughly combined, you can gently fold in any fillings or flavourings. Pour into sprayed pan of choice (with or without cookie crumb crust).

**If you want to add some jelly or chocolate swirls, now would be the time to dollop and drag through with a knife.

Bake for 10 minutes for the minis (15 minutes for normal).
Turn temp down to 275 F and bake for another 45 minutes (1.5 hours).
Turn oven off and let sit in oven for 1 hour (3 hours).

Refrigerate what you don’t immediately and voraciously consume!

Apple Turnovers

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By my daddy’s request I have made turnovers! Apple ones, at that. A classic and very very simple.

What I did was buy the frozen pre-made puff pastry. With my dismal history at pie crust I didn’t feel up to the challenge of home made puff pastry. At least not today. Make sure you put the pastry in the refrigerator a DAY before you want to use it. It says you can leave it out at room temp or briefly micro it, but it really won’t hold up as well or have the same fluffy texture.

But now, I’m sure you are curious about the filling. In a pinch you can use canned filling. Super cheats two-step way of making these turnovers. If you want to get really fancy though, I suggest using the apple filling from these Wonton Apple Pies from Neighborfood blog. (Also, try out the wonton version. They are adorable and addictive and a huge hit at parties.) The filling is super simple and quick to make. And I even made it with white sugar, having forgotten I had run out of brown! But it’s pretty fail-pro0f and very open to improvisations.

Another pro-tip: drizzle the caramel sauce from that recipe over top of the turnovers and/or use as a dipping sauce!

 

IMG_3162 (2)All you have to do to put the turnovers together is cut your puff pastry dough into squares (my dough was sized so I simply cut it into quarters), put a heaping spoonful of apple filling in the center and fold over the dough diagonally to make triangles. I didn’t bother using milk or egg to seal the edges, but I did go over the seals with a fork to make a simple crimp around the edges.

Then I beat an egg quite thoroughly and brushed it on top of the turnovers to ensure they baked to a golden brown and to give them a little shine. I then popped them into a 400F oven for 15 minutes. They are done when the pastry has a nice deep color around the edges!

Let cool for 15 minutes so you don’t burn yourself and enjoy!

And if you happen to have leftovers, microwave for 30 seconds to have them nice and hot again to if you happen to need to keep warm during this polar vortex thing. Here in sunny AZ it is actually unusually warm for winter. In the 60s and 70s. But my dad and I still microwave the turnovers at night (when it gets cold enough we can pretend it is a legitimate winter here.)

 

 

Holiday Sugar and Gingerbread Cookies with Eggless Icing

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In a sudden bought of Holiday Spirit, my cousins and I got together to make Christmas cookies!

I don’t normally do cut-outs, they take too much time and effort. Plus it is amazingly hard to find a delicious sugar cookie recipe. But for the sake of my 6 year old cousin, I scoured the internet for a couple of cut-out recipes.

I found and prepared this gingerbread recipe and this sugar cookie recipe. For the gingerbread, I followed it to a T. The only hitch being not being able to find pre-ground cloves. So I had to grind my own in a bullet.

The sugar cookie recipe I modified according to the comments. Using only 3 cups of flour and a teaspoon of vanilla.

I chilled the sugar cookie dough and let the sugar cookie dough sit out. Until it was time to roll and cut.

 

 

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Rolling out the dough was such a pain. I don’t know why the gingerbread said to leave the dough at room temperature. It was much too soft and sticky. I think chilling it would have been much better.

The sugar cookie dough was chilled and very easy to deal with, until it got warmed up by hands and oven heat.

It was sort of fun at first. Though dealing with a rambunctious 6 year old does wear the nerves.

 

 

 

 

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I  must say that frosting the cookies was the best part. I found and prepared this frosting with a few modifications. I used cream cheese, instead of butter, and didn’t have any vanilla so just left it out completely. The milk I added till the consistency I wanted, I didn’t even bother with measurements.

The frosting ended up a thick liquid that I partitioned into 7 parts and let my baby cousin add color to. So with yellow, purple, pink, green, blue, aqua, and orange we spread the icing on the cookies and let the sprinkles flow.

After drying for a few hours the cookies were perfectly prepared for stacking and storing.  The gingerbread cookies were quite delicious! And a perfect texture. The sugar cookies were a bit bland (next time I will add some cinnamon and nutmeg to the dough.) They were nice a fluffy though. I really enjoyed the texture of these sugar cookies. Not overly crunchy, but held their shape nicely!

I won’t be making cut-outs for a long while, but it was a fun adventure and a great memory!

Elliot’s on Congress and The HUB

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Pictured here are the pulled duck street tacos from Elliot’s on Congress. This is a neat little bar in the downtown area.

My friends and I went for happy hour where they feature great drink prices (though, honestly, their full price specialty drinks are no more than 8 dollars anyway.) It is a SERIOUSLY good deal!

I enjoyed a glass of draft Shock Top for $2 and a plate of the Street Tacos for $7. A filling and fun evening for $10 total.

The tacos were really unique and cool. I’ve never seen of this fusion before and really enjoyed the pulled duck. The tortillas were a mix of corn and flour as well, providing a nice mild flour flavor with the sturdiness of your average corn tortilla.

I will admit it was a smaller portion than I was bargaining for. Especially when compared to the huge plate of burger and fries that my friends both enjoyed.

The fries there, by the way, are truly a unique experience. They are the thinnest shoe string fries I’ve ever come across and drizzled in a light garlic sauce. They are even more addicting than normal fries because you feel like you have to eat three of them to measure up to an average fry. I don’t mean this in a bad way! It’s just different. A true SNACK food.

The decor is very trendy to boot. It’s a neat hip place that you should definitely check out!

And of course, end the evening with a visit to the HUB for some original and amazing ice cream flavours (like brandied cherry goat cheese ice cream or chocolate stout ice cream.) A very gourmet dessert for a decent price!

Brown Butter Snickerdoodles

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Possibly the best cookies I’ve ever made ever. Also I am in love with this new brown butter fad. TRY THESE IMMEDIATELY!!

A dear friend suggested this recipe to me. Actually, she recommended the caramel snickerdoodles but seeing as I had no sea salt caramel, I went with the original recipe. Brown Butter Snickerdoodles!

I pretty much followed the recipe to a T (or is it tea? …never really understood that saying…) besides one minor adjustment. I didn’t (and still don’t -hey no throwing things!) have any cream of tartar. So I did a bit of googling and decided to go in between the two main substitution measurements I found. I used 2 tsp baking powder and left out any additional salt – and they came out beautifully even so.

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They even stayed soft for the next day (there was one left for my dad and I for the next night’s breakfast dessert.) But even holding out on the last two was a test of will!

They are rich and have a very deep and complex flavor for cookies. I have never tasted anything so subtle and varied in my favorite baking form! The brown butter really made all the difference. It brought out this sweet, salty, nutty, toasted flavor that I have yet to encounter anywhere else.

And for those of you who are trying to brown butter for the first time, here’s a secret. You’ll KNOW when it’s started to brown. Just be patient and wait for the butter to form tiny solid specks at the bottom – that’s the browned fat content! And once it starts to darken, take it off the heat IMMEDIATELY.

I have to admit, I did take it off a tad bit prematurely. I can’t even imagine how rich the taste will be when I properly brown the butter!

Anyways, stop what you are dong right now and go make these. No excuses. You’ll thank me later.

Chocolate Caramel Cookies

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I was inspired to make these sumptuous and overly decadent delights by the amazing stop motion video by Sorted and co. Click on this link and watch for yourself. That is the VERY definition of Food Porn. Tell me you didn’t start moaning over the richness of it all.

I dare you.

Needless to say I was so hot and bothered over these cookies I rushed out to the store to pick up the candies and nutella (the only ingredients I didn’t have on hand.)

I got home, washed my hands and commenced assembly immediately.

Only to discover that the ingredient amounts are listed in grams. Oops. Forgot about that whole conversion bit.

I did some quick google searching for the ingredient conversions (it’s important to keep in mind that grams are a WEIGHT measurement and cups are a VOLUME measurement. So it’s no easy formula.)

This is my interpretation:

INGREDIENTS

  • butter (110g) ~ 1 stick
  • light brown sugar (350g) ~ 1 3/4 cups
  • cocoa powder (55g) ~ heaping 1/3 cup
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 3/4 tsp baking powder
  • plain flour (260g) ~ according to calculations 2 1/2 cups, see the explication below for further details.
  • milk or dark chocolate chips (100g) ~ I didn’t look this one up, just add as much as you want! (~1-2 cups)
  • sea salt, for sprinkling
  • 8 tbsp nutella
  • 16 caramel-filled chocolates

RECIPE

line a baking tray with parchment paper.
preheat your oven to 180 degrees C (that’s 350 F for us Americans).
melt the butter in a medium heated pan.
take off the heat and stir in the brown sugar and eggs.
add the cocoa, salt and baking powder and stir until well combined.
add the flour and stir until no floury patches are left.
stir in the chocolate chips.
take 1 heaped tbsp of dough, use your finger make a large indentation the centre of the dough; fill the indentation with a small blob of nutella (like 1/2 tsp ish), and top it up with the caramel-filled chocolate.
top with a flattened tablespoon of dough, and seal the edges.
sprinkle with sea salt and bake for 8-10 minutes

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So. All was going well despite the frantic search to convert the measurements until I got to the flour. I put in about 1.5 cups fluffed flour (as in I spooned, stirred and fluffed the flour before scooping into the measuring cup) and stirred thoroughly. Only to find the dough was more of a batter. So I added some more. And some more. At this point I was just pouring it out of my almost empty bag so I have no idea how much extra I added. But I kept at it until the batter was DOUGH consistency and would hold a cookie shape.

Unfortunately by this time the chocolate chips had melted.

And I think I added a LITTLE too much flour.

But I was happy just to be able to scoop a blob out and push my finger into the middle! So I wasn’t going to complain.

I filled with Nutella and plopped a Ghiradelli salt caramel chocolate square on top (my cookies were quite a bit bigger than those in the stop motion version.)

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I then covered them up using almost all of the dough and popped them in the oven for 10 minutes. I let them cool a bit and broke one open. Before I get into the explicit and mature description I will warn you that they will appear to be undercooked. But do NOT cook for longer than TEN MINUTES. Otherwise they get a bit too crunchy and hard. Unless you are into that kind of thing. No judgement.

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I’m not actually sure I can do justice to that picture. It was warm. Gooey Molten Ambrosia. . Rich. Decadent. Satisfying. Overwhelming. Lightly crispy. Creamy. Dense. You know the words ( I really need to get some new vocabulary for cookies. But, I mean, what other trigger words do you need besides dense, chewy and rich?) Sproing! My mouth is salivating.

These are dangerously rich and thoroughly crave-quenching. Bake at your own risk (and glorious tastebud overload!)

 

Conversions found through these lovely links!

http://www.traditionaloven.com/conversions_of_measures/sugar_amounts.html

http://www.pastryscoop.com/category/look-it-up/flour/